What is preterm labor?
Your doctor might be able to help you avoid preterm births. Preterm births are less likely to occur if your baby is still in the womb.
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Preterm birth can cause problems with the brain, lungs and other systems in a newborn baby’s body. The good news is that there are effective drugs that can delay delivery thanks to advances in preterm labor research. Call a doctor immediately if you are experiencing signs of premature labor.
Preterm labor can be characterized by:
- Consistent or frequent contractions (tightening of your belly)
- Low back pain that is constant and dull
- Pressure in your lower abdomen or pelvis
- Mild cramps in the abdomen
- Water breaking (watery vaginal discharge that is either a trickle, or a gush).
- Changes in vaginal discharge
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting
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Preterm labor medications and treatments Preterm labor symptoms can occur if you are less than 37 weeks of pregnancy. Your doctor may recommend certain medications to help you avoid delivery.
Your doctor may also prescribe steroids to increase the baby’s lung function.
You may be prescribed antibiotics if your water has been broken to prevent infection. This will help you remain pregnant for longer.
- Your doctor might recommend progesterone if you are at risk of preterm labor.
- Continue reading to find out more about these preterm labor treatments.
Corticosteroids and baby’s lungs: benefits and risks
Some people go into labor very early. Corticosteroid injections may be an option if you give birth before 34 weeks. This will increase your baby’s chances for success. These injections improve the function of your baby’s lungs.
Steroids are typically injected into the pregnant woman’s large muscles (arms or legs), during childbirth. Depending on the steroid used, injections can be given up to four times in a two-day period.
Betamethasone (Celestone) is the most commonly used steroid. It can be taken in two doses of 12 mg (mg), each, 12 hours or 24 hours apart. The medication is most effective between 2-7 days after the initial dose.
Corticosteroids don’t work the same way as bodybuilding steroids.
Corticosteroids have been shown to be an important and widely-used intervention in many cases according to studies. They are not associated with increased risk, although there is limited scientific evidence to support this.
What are the benefits associated with steroids?
Preterm babies born before 29 weeks gestation are at lower risk of developing lung problems.
A 2016 study of mice revealed that steroids can lower the risk of developing bronchopulmonary dysplasia. This condition can cause chronic lung disease in infants. To maximize the benefits of steroid treatments, it is important to start treatment early.
Other complications may be reduced by steroids in babies. According to a 2017 review, babies who were given betamethasone by their mother before giving birth had less problems with their intestines.
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What are the potential risks associated with taking steroids?
An older data set has not shown significant risks from a single dose of steroids.
2017 studies revealed a slight increase in the chance of cleft lips due to corticosteroid usage during the first trimester. It is rare to use steroids so early in pregnancy.
Although a 2019 study found a correlation between corticosteroid usage and low birth weight (research is ongoing),
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A 2019 data review showed that repeated prenatal corticosteroids can be given to pregnant women with continuing risks of preterm birth. This could reduce the chance of baby needing breathing support at birth.